I've thought about Joe's experience a lot in the last few days. I admit it was a little like a cold shower in the middle of a hot date.
However, it hasn't dampened my enthusiasm. I'll go over some of the points that I think are relevant. Comments about Joe's riding are meant to be critical examination and not at all derogatory.
- He missed the high line which looks as if it would have put him on solid rock. I am guessing that his rear tire caught that fracture line and threw off his balance. The fact that his buddy rode through without incident indicates that the area was passable.
Some days you're the tree, some days you're the bear.
- He didn't have the brake and clutch covered. This is mentioned by others in the comments. This might have meant locking the front wheel and dumping the bike rather going off the edge.
- No steering dampener. This might have helped hold the front end in place.
Perhaps the biggest advantage is that it prevents a lot of fatigue on the trail. Coupled with his recent sickness this could have made a huge difference in being able to pick and hold lines in tough terrain.
When I went across country last time, and especially when I did the off road riding on the White Rim Trail, my attitude was that it was going to be a long trip and to just relax and take it easy. This is going to be an even longer and harder trip so the advice is even more important.
To that end:
- I'm going over all my plans in greater detail. What is my Plan B? and C?
- I tend to be happy-go-lucky but when I'll be a long way from help and riding solo I'll need to be a little more careful. If I took the same spill Joe did, and wasn't able to crawl back up to the trail, who would ever find me?
- Physical training - I've been working out but I've upped my goals quite a bit. This might be the single most important component for success!
- A lighter, simpler bike. I'll be taking everything off my bike that I can. Less is definitely more. And the more firmly it's clamped to the bike the better.
One of the problems with the last two trips is that I had the de rigueur metal panniers. In really rough stuff they tended to sway a bit. Like an out of synch pendulum they would be zigging when the rest of the bike was zagging which made for some very stressful riding. To get up Murphy's Hogback I had to take them off an carry them to the top.
- DBAJ (dee-badge) - Don't Be A Jerk! This is my usual mantra when out on a solo adventure ride. Now more than ever!
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